Key areas of learning difficulty to address
In some cases, you may have some awareness of a student’s difficulties before you use LASS 8–11. Concern about a student’s progress will often be the stimulus to carry out an assessment. A student with dyslexic tendencies will typically present with problems in all or most of these characteristic areas:
- short-term memory (auditory and/or visual)
- phonological processing skills
- phonic decoding skills
- poor presentation of written work
- disorganised work and life.
It is very likely that a student with dyslexia will have a mismatch between high level oral skills in class discussions and the quantity and quality of any written work that is produced. Possibly, reading skills may be underdeveloped, with lack of fluency, frequent decoding errors and poor comprehension of text. Spelling may be minimal, phonetic or bizarre and only simple words written, when much more complex words are used orally. Especially where there is some element of dyspraxia, the pupil’s handwriting may be erratic, spidery, very small, very large or deeply indented into the page. These are all indicators that a great deal of physical effort is required to write by hand, which puts increased stress on a brain that is struggling to cope with sequencing and orientation difficulties. Great difficulty or inability to organise the content of written work or set a priority on tasks can manifest itself as work not completed in class in the set time, or homework not handed in. There may also be problems of staying on-task due to memory
problems, where the dyslexic student loses track of the content of a long sentence and keeps asking the teacher or other students for prompts.
Some students will have developed advanced strategies for avoiding stressful work, which may be manifested as:
- lost writing equipment/books
- regular and prolonged visits to the toilet
- acting the class clown
- distracting other students
- provoking dismissal from the room
- school phobia.
None of these behaviours are likely to produce a good learning environment and if they become conduct problems, it is unlikely that the student will get the sympathetic support from the class teacher that is needed to address the learning difficulties.